The 21 Most Memorable Moments from Disney Films
There’s something magical about Disney movies and it isn’t always the happy ending. Disney first started releasing movies in 1937 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and they’ve created a franchise of Disney princesses since.
However, Disney doesn’t just focus on your typical princess fairytale anymore, and there are many moments in a Disney film that both children and adults can find memorable. Sometimes it’s a cute moment between a girl who falls through the rabbit hole, and sometimes it’s an old man finding a scrapbook that his wife has left him.
Whatever the impression Disney films leave on you, there is no question that they will make you laugh and cry. Here are twenty-one of the most memorable scenes from animated and live action Disney films.
1. Miguel Sings to Coco
Credit: Coco/ Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar
Miguel promises Victor that he won’t let Coco forget him. When he returns he has the story behind the real author of “Remember Me” and has a touching moment with his grandmother.
2. The Mad Hatter Tea Party
Credit: Alice In Wonderland/Walt Disney Pictures
Alice in Wonderland is a trippy little film that takes a young girl into a magical world. One of the most iconic and memorable scenes is the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Sitting at the table with the March Hare and the Dormouse, Alice finds stacks of teacups and treats and is introduced to the idea of a Un-Birthday.
3. Bing Bong Saves Joy and Sadness
Credit: Inside Out/Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar
Inside Out does a great job of playing with the intricacies of human memory, but nothing is sadder than watching Bing Bong fall into a chasm never to be heard from again. Riley’s bubbly imaginary friend sacrifices himself that Joy can get to control and the moments before he fades from view are some of the saddest we remember.
4. “I Put a Spell on You”
Credit: Hocus Pocus/Walt Disney Pictures
How can you put Bette Middler in a movie about witches and not have her enchant a Halloween Party with a song? When Winifred Sanderson breaks out into a witch-y rendition of “I Put a Spell on You” in Hocus Pocus it seems like the only appropriate reaction would be for the party-goers to think that it was an act. The scene is a good romp and spectacle.
5. Moana Faces Te Ka
Credit: Moana/Walt Disney Pictures
Like most Disney films, Moana will make you laugh and cry, but nothing is more touching than the moment that she realizes Te Ka and Ne Fiti are one and the same. When she asks the sea to part so she can restore the heart it’s a beautiful moment with soft singing as she places her head against Te Ka’s. In this moment, Moana shows us that sometimes you have to face your fears in order to get to your goals.
6. Have Courage and Be Kind
Credit: Cinderella/Walt Disney Pictures
The live-action Cinderella added a scene where Ella’s mother told her to have courage and be kind. The touching scene fills a void not often seen in retellings of fairytales and lets the audience start off the movie a little teary-eyed.
7. Mia Thermopolis Finds Out She’s a Princess
Credit: The Princess Diaries/Walt Disney Pictures
Who can forget the moment that Mia Thermopolis sat across from her grandmother and was told she was the Princess of Genovea? The only thing more iconic than Anne Hathaway’s, “Shut up!” is Julie Andrews’s choking on her tea afterwards.
8. Nemo Escapes
Credit: Finding Nemo/Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar
Getting Nemo home is an effort on all sides. The scene in Finding Nemo where the tank crew attempt to save him from Darla, aided by the fortunate timing of his dad is a scene that is both comedic and iconic.
9. Mulan Saves China
Credit: Mulan/Walt Disney Pictures
Mulan is a movie all about a girl who subverts expectation and then demolishes them when she saves her country. The final battle scene is a well-executed, earned ending with a bit of the humor that Mulan had at the beginning of her story and a clear mission. Her chant of “Get off the roof! Get off the roof!” as she runs from the oncoming explosion is a particularly nice touch.
10. Merida Shoots for Her Own Hand
Credit: Brave/Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar
Until Merida, most Disney and Pixar princesses had a prince. Brave’s Merida was the first Disney princess to defy expectation and fight for her freedom. The moment when she marches into the archery competition and declares she’ll shoot for her own hand is one that we’ll always remember.
11. Feed the Birds
Credit: Mary Poppins/Walt Disney Pictures
Mary Poppins’s song about a woman who sells crumbs to feed the birds sounds like a nice lullaby for the Banks children until the children see her the next day. Rather than open a bank account, they decide they’d rather feed the birds. Soon the lullaby turns into a lesson on banking. The result of these scenes is a bank run.
12. Roger Saves Lucky
Credit: 101 Dalmatians/Walt Disney Pictures
The scene is so quiet while Pongo and Purdy’s puppies are born in 101 Dalmatians. Pongo is waiting by the door expectedly for news. Nanny comes in and out for a towel. The clock is ticking. The thunder is crashing. Roger is sitting in the corner smoking his pipe.
There’s a moment of jubilation as Nanny rushes out to announce the arrival of the puppies. Eight. Ten. Eleven. Thirteen. Fourteen. Fifteen. Then the joy falls when Nanny presents Roger with one puppy that didn’t make it. Roger resuscitates the puppy, and as it crawls out from the blanket and shouts, “We still have fifteen!”
13. Quasimodo Claims Sanctuary
Credit: The Hunchback of Notre Dame/Walt Disney Pictures
There’s the kind of sanitizing Disney does to Grimm’s fairytales and then there’s trying to clean up Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The climactic scene in which Quasimodo breaks out of his chains and rescues Esmeralda from the fire, and scales the cathedral is an epic spectacle.
14. Wall-E Cares for Eve After Finding the Plant
Credit: Wall-E/Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar
Wall-E was alone on Earth before he met Eve, and when Eve shut down after finding a plant he wasn’t sure what to do. The montage of Wall-E pushing the floating Eve around is a sweet montage of the last two beings on Earth that is both funny and heart-breaking at the same time.
15. Carl Finds Ellie’s Adventure Book
Credit: Up/Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar
Up starts with Carl and Ellie’s story, and it’s only fair that their love boosts him into the climax of the show. Carl finds the Adventure Book and places the image of Paradise Falls with the house on the cliff in the front. Then flips through to find that Ellie has filled it with photos from their life together. On the last page, she writes “Thanks for the Adventure. Now go have a new one.”
16. Remember Who You Are
Credit: The Lion King/Walt Disney Pictures
The Lion King is a classic Disney tale, but the moment Rafiki lets Simba speak to Mufasa’s spirit is heartbreaking. The idea of Mufasa living within Simba is a touching one, and the words used are so gentle.
17. Woodland Creatures Help Snow White Clean the House
Credit: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves /Walt Disney Pictures
There are so many problematic themes in Snow White, but the one scene that always sticks out from this film is how the woodland creatures help her clean the house. This magical moment enchants younger audiences and leaves younger audiences wondering why, no matter how they sing, they can’t summon woodland creatures to help them clean the house.
18. True Love Melts Anna’s Frozen Heart
Credit: Frozen/Walt Disney Pictures
At the center of Frozen is Elsa and Anna’s sisterhood, and it’s no surprise that it’s key to the end of the story. Anna stepping in front of Klaus and saving Elsa is a very moving act that in turn thaws her frozen heart, and gives Elsa an idea for how she can end Arendale’s winter.
19. Bella Note Spaghetti Dinner
Credit: Lady and the Tramp/Walt Disney Pictures
Lady and the Tramp’s Tony is such a dog person! Sitting the dogs at the table and ordering spaghetti and meatballs for them, then serenading them as they eat is so heartfelt. Plus, the silent dinner interaction between the two dogs is a lot of fun to watch.
20. Giselle Arrives in New York City
Credit: Enchanted/Walt Disney Pictures
Enchanted gave us a gift, Amy Adams as a singing princess in a big white dress running through busy New York City streets. If you ever wondered how a Disney princess would react to the real work, Giselle’s amazement and confusion as she climbs out of a manhole cover in a puffy white wedding dress will answer that question.
21. You Can Fly
Credit: Peter Pan/Walt Disney Pictures
What child doesn’t want to fly? The scene where Peter Pan teaches the Darling children to fly is a memorable Disney moment because of how uplifting it is. The idea that all a person needs to fly is a happy thought is so magical that you can’t help but smile.